Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Separate journeys, Shared Destination

2014 Camino de Frances - on the meseta heading towards Sahagun
At one point a week ago, I had three friends walking the Camino: One was on the Camino Frances, one was on the newish Camino Invierno, and one was on the Camino Norte. The Camino Invierno and Camino Norte overlap a little with Camino Frances in various places. Three different trips by three different friends. Three separate journeys, several shared intersections, with one shared destination.

And I have several more friends or acquaintances going this summer and fall. A group of friends is on pilgrimage to Lourdes, which I last visited as part of my 2016 spring camino and was its starting point. And I myself will be walking on short segments of a couple pilgrimage routes this summer. The need to walk and find wholeness "out there" moves powerfully in the people who I know. If I'm asked for tips, there are the normal ones about learning a few key phrases if in a different country (Where is the bathroom? Left? Right? Numbers.) and places to sleep. But I also have a few that are less specific, more guidelines than specific suggestions.

The four guidelines are below. And, whenever I share them, I realize that they apply not just to the pilgrimage on the Camino but to life in general. To our journey on this planet home.

* Listen to your heart. If it says stop in this village, go on to the next, catch a cab - do it. It's your camino. Embrace it. Don't resent or regret it. Love it.

* Listen to your body. If your feet say they hurt, don't power on blindly. Take the shoes off, put on a new pair of socks that feel fluffy and nice (something I recommend if they are hurting because the new dry socks will limit/avoid blisters), massage them, rest a spell. If you have a headache or are dizzy, rest a spell. If your back hurts, put the pack down, rest, and adjust the backpack settings or move the weight around until you feel comfortable enough to continue. Your body knows you need rest better than your mind knows.

* Listen to the earth. If the stream calls you, pause and sit beside her. Dip your feet into the cold invigorating water. If the sunrise or sunset asks you to stop and see, then stop and be grateful. If the chestnut and apple trees and the wild grape vines are dropping fruit at your feet, accept them and share them with other pilgrims and the horses and those who thirst and those who hunger.

* Listen to what called you there in the first place. You'll see litter. You'll hear complaining. You'll find busy restaurants, noisy albergues/hostals/hotels/homes, confusing road signs, tired voices. And you may be feeling similarly. Accept your reactions and remember that you are on this trip because you felt a tug, a call, a voice that invited you to come. When negative emotions or doubts come to you, remember the invitation and have a conversation with the calling voice.

As summer approaches, may you find rest on your journey. I'll be grateful if our paths cross on the same day; I'll be grateful if our paths cross but we miss each other by minutes or days or weeks. May we head towards where we dream and remember from where we came.

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